Chacha Nehru’s Balvatika spread over six acres on the banks of Kankaria Lake in Ahmedabad, has been left to neglect. The once teeming with energy and chatter of small children address, now wears a deserted and dilapidated look. Abandoning the iconic Balvatika speaks as much about an ignore from authorities as it does about the concept of imaginative play being a passe in today’s world.
Highlights such as the doll house, baal library, traffic centre and panchratna vatika are closed to public. Inaugurated in 1956, the famous doll house once displayed dolls from faraway countries like Singapore and Japan.
In fact, not many know that the sprawling grounds were once a regular haunt of young cycle enthusiasts who availed of the well-laid out tracks to learn and then pedal tri and bicycles. “We remember seeing little ones enthralled by the deer, goats and horses. Stage production with kids and police bands were a monthly affair. Kids were allowed to set free pigeons and then whistle them back to their holes,” shares an old-time watchman at the premises.
The “Mirror House” continues to attract visitors with its play of images on the convex and concave mirrors. Added, numismatics are among the handful regulars here to view coins from different eras and countries. “Kids are no more inclined towards cycling. They are into gadgets. The deer rides were stopped to follow the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and the Prevention of Cruelty to the Animal Act, 1960,” shared a functionary.
The entry ticket to Balvatika is priced at Rs 3 for adults and it saw nearly 50,000 visitors in 2022. Kids are charged Rs 100 for any six activities.
Sadly, as Balvatika continues to deteriorate, the authorities are investing resources into Kids City, which came up in 2010 at a whopping Rs 12 crore.
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